Google finding its rhythm with streaming music service

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Reports are hitting that Google is just weeks away from launching a new streaming music service.

Google-owned YouTube has gained a lot of popularity, playing music videos. The videos, though, have come one at a time. According to a report from Reuters, YouTube is about to launch a subscription and ad-supported service that can play several videos in a row.

That’s not it for Google, though.

The company, which reportedly tried to buy the popular music streaming service Spotify, also is working on a $10-a-month, subscription-based streaming music service. The service will include technology gained from Google’s purchase of music service Songza, known for suggesting music based on the time of day, the user’s activities and his or her favorite music genres.

When Google bought Songza in July, the company noted that it planned to work its music technology and services into Google Play and YouTube over the next several months.

Google did not respond to a question about launching a Songza-like streaming music service but did note that it’s working to update YouTube.

“We’re always working on new ways for people to enjoy YouTube content, and on giving our partners more opportunities to reach fans and generate revenue,” a YouTube spokesperson told Computerworld in an email. “We’ll be adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind, and look forward to sharing them with music fans.”

The spokesperson did not give a specific timetable.

Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner, Inc., said it would be a good move for Google to launch a competitor in the streaming music arena simply because it would be yet another draw for the Internet giant.

“Sure there is money there, but it's also about engagement,” he added. “As a top-level consumer platform, Google needs all types of consumer services, and media and entertainment are one of the key areas, especially via mobile apps, where consumer spend their time and money.”

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, agreed that music is a key service simply because consumers spend so much online time listening to it.

“Google is late to the party, but with their resources and Android deployments, they don't have to be the best or first to make it work,” he said. “I don't think Google will differentiate from the current music service leaders, but rather compete on price and they’ll depend on people stumbling across the service during their Google experience.”

Both Blau and Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said Google is well positioned to come up with a creative music service that can offer up music that users will want to hear… before they even know they want to hear it.

“Google has been doing a lot of work with artificial intelligence and they’ve been pulling music off of Android devices so they know what people listen to,” said Enderle. “I expect they will combine the two things and create a better discovery engine that will do a better job surfacing music you didn’t know that you’d like.”

Google is well positioned to use its technical savvy to upgrade a streaming music experience, noted Blau.

“If Google launches a service like Songza, or includes some of their features, then it is a bit different than the Pandoras of the world in that there is a component of personalization combined with algorithms, playlists, and interesting and situational groupings that help people refine their listening tastes,” he said. “Bringing it all under one brand and a centralized UI would mean they then have a full-featured music service, which I think will be attractive as a product.”

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